Mac and cheese is one of the South’s most delicious, sharable and soul-settling foods, and we love it just as much as we are led to believe it loves us.
Here at Southern Kitchen, we don’t doubt for a second that your own macaroni and cheese recipe is the greatest mac and cheese recipe ever – we were actually just wondering when you were going to share yours with us via our recipe database, Facebook and Instagram accounts. But in the meantime, because it’s tortuous enough just waiting for mac and cheese to finish cooking and cooling down, we figured why not start the exchange tonight. So we’re passing to you a few piping-hot takes on mac and cheese that are worth serving up as early as, well… ASAP. And we asked Recipe Tsar Jeffrey Gardner to provide a few recipes from Southern Kitchen’s database, but as we should have expected he did us one better – he picked two of ours and shared one of his own.
With options for the beginner as well as the connoisseur and those somewhere in-between, you’ll not only enjoy reading “Cheffrey’s” picks below and eating what comes from them, you’ll also appreciate that they’re all as easy as they are cheesy (much like this joke).
Baked Mac and Cheese
“Using a blonde roux as a thickener will give you a mac and cheese that’s more stable in the oven, and will prevent the fat from separating in the sauce,” Jeffrey said. “This recipe is a good basic version, but you can add a little extra flair by sprinkling the top with parmesan cheese, buttered panko bread crumbs or even crushed-up cheese crackers for texture.” Sold -- we love flair almost as much as mac and cheese.
Triple Cheese Mac and Cheese
Can’t decide how to best cheese your mac? Jeffrey might’ve had you in mind when he selected this three-cheesed tummy treasure. “Many cooks believe in using a blend of cheeses in their mac. This is an opportunity to truly test the limits of your imagination by incorporating any combination of your favorite cheeses.” He also said you shouldn’t have any misgivings about using a certain vilified processed cheese product – you might be surprised by what comes from even the most unconventional blend. “Gouda, manchego, gruyere, taleggio, or even that stuff in the center aisle of the supermarket that starts with the letter V: all can be part of a delicious and unique mac & cheese.” With a blend of cheddar for sharpness, Monterey Jack for meltiness, and parmesan for saltiness, he says this recipe, which came to Southern Kitchen via Atlanta’s OK Café, is a nice jumping-off point.”
Extra Cheesy Mac and Cheese
This particular recipe came is one of Jeffrey’s own, and in it he uses a cream-based sauce with dry mustard, nutmeg and hot sauce added to cut the richness of the cheese. “Use the sharpest white cheddar you can find to impart the most flavor possible,” he said. “On its own, it makes a great accompaniment to any potluck or barbecued meat, but you can add additional ingredients to make it stand out.” What sort of extras does he recommend? Like a true Southern gent, he deferred to the wisdom of his elders to guide the way, reminding us to follow our hearts but don’t leave our tastebuds behind. “Mama Gardner was partial to diced city ham and sweet peas, but lobster, crab, roasted cauliflower, asparagus, broccoli, and sweet grape tomatoes would all make fabulous additions,” he said.
Photo Credit, second image: Sullivan's Steakhouse; Austin, Texas